The Green Codes Task Force (GCTF) is the most comprehensive effort of any U.S. city government to green local construction codes and regulations that impact buildings. 111 recommendations were produced to bring the most cost-effective green building benefits to all buildings.

What is it?

To green New York City’s buildings through codes, the City explored Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) requirements for new construction, but found that LEED® was designed as tool that promoted innovation, not necessarily regulation. Therefore, the City decided to turn to its extraordinary design and real estate community for suggestions. In July 2008, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn asked the New York chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (Urban Green Council) to convene a task force of more than 200 experts to recommend changes within any of the City’s codes and regulations to make buildings more sustainable.

GCTF developed 111 proposals that address the wide array of building impacts, such as water consumption, landscape practices, toxicity of materials, building resilience, occupants’ physical activity and energy efficiency. Two years after the proposals were introduced, many have already been incorporated into City law or practice, while others are in the process of being crafted into workable laws.

How does it work?

GCTF was structured and assembled by Urban Green Council and the New York City Mayor’s Office in 2008. Over 200 individuals from diverse backgrounds, expertise, and sectors were divided into nine technical committees that researched existing problems and generated ideas. A steering committee was created to oversee the process and an industry advisory committee included stakeholders to provide valuable feedback on the proposals. These committees met regularly (roughly 70 times) in the course of three months, brainstorming improvements to the codes, and benchmarking regulations from other local, national, and international codes. Ideas were narrowed down and developed into proposals, which were reviewed by the steering and industry advisory committees.

The proposals went under an additional 10 month refinement process, receiving numerous edits in addition to supporting information such as length of payback cost analysis. During this period, major themes emerged among the 111 recommendations, which resulted with the recommendations organized into ten categories in the final report:

  • Overarching Code Issues
  • Health & Toxicity
  • Energy & Carbon Emissions: Fundamentals
  • Energy & Carbon Emissions: Operations & Maintenance
  • Energy & Carbon Emissions: Energy Efficiency
  • Building Resilience
  • Resource Conservation
  • Water Efficiency
  • Stormwater
  • Urban Ecology

The final report was delivered to the New York City Mayor and Council Speaker on February 1, 2010, with many recommendations ready for implementation and others needing further development. The report and more information can be found at and

CO2 reduction

The 29 implemented Green Codes (out of 111 total Green Code recommendations) will contribute to almost 5 percent reductions of citywide carbon emissions by 2030.


Below is a list of enacted proposals and their corresponding legislation:

Overarching Code Issues (OC)

  • OC 1: Add Environmental Protection as a Fundamental Principle of the Construction Codes - NYC Local Law 49 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • OC 6: Streamline Approvals for Green Technologies & Projects - NYC Local Law 5 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • OC 7: Enhance Code Training for Architects & Engineers - NYC Training Code Modules

Health & Toxicity (HT)

  • HT 1: Limit Harmful Emissions from Carpets - NYC Local Law 2 of 2012 (in PDF)
  • HT 3: Restrict Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde in Building Materials - Federal Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (in PDF)
  • HT 5: Filter Soot from Incoming Air - NYC Local Law 72 of 2011 (in PDF)
  • HT 9: Phase out Dirty Boiler Fuels - NYC Rules, Title 15, Ch.2 (in PDF) and NYC LL 43 of 2010 (DEP) (in PDF)
  • HT 13: Treat Corrosive Concrete Wastewater - NYC Local Law 70 of 2011 (in PDF)
  • HT 14: Reduce "Red Tape" for Asbestos Removal - NYC Rules, Title 15, Chapter 1 (DEP) (in PDF)
  • HT 15: Increase Availability of Drinking Fountains - NYC Local Law 55 of 2010 (in PDF)

Energy & Carbon Emissions: Fundamentals (EF)

  • EF 7: Minimize Air Leakage Building Exteriors - 2010 ECCCNYS, Ch. 5 and ASHRAE 90.1 2010 Ch. 5 
  • EF11: Reduce Summer Heat with Cool Roofs - NYC Local Law 21 of 2011 (in PDF)
  • EF 14: Allow Large Solar Rooftop Installations - NYC Local Law 20 of 2011 (in PDF)
  • EF 16: Remove Landmarks Impediments to Alternative Energy - NYC Rules, Title 63, Ch. 1 (LPC) (in PDF)
  • EF 17: Allow Use of Biofuels - NYC Local Law 43 of 2010 (in PDF)

Energy & Carbon Emissions: Operations & Maintenance (EO)

  • EO 1: Re-tune Large Buildings Every Seven Years - NYC Local Law 87 of 2009 (in PDF)
  • EO 2: Measure Electricity Use in Tenant Spaces - NYC Local Law 88 of 2009 (in PDF)

Energy & Carbon Emissions: Energy Efficiency (EE)

  • EE 7: Increase Lighting Efficiency in Apartment Buildings - NYC Local Law 52 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • EE 13: Use Manual On - Automatic Off Lighting - NYC Local Law 48 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • EE 15: Reduce Artificial Lighting in Sunlit Lobbies & Hallways - NYC Local Law 47 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • EE 26: Ensure Lighting Systems Function Properly - NYC Rules, Title 1, Ch. 5000 (DOB) (in PDF)

Resource Conservation (RC)

  • RC 4: Use Recycled Asphalt - NYC Local Law71 of 2011 (in PDF)

Water Efficiency (WE)

  • WE 1: Enhance Water Efficiency Standards - NYC Local Law 57 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • WE 3: Catch Leaks by Measuring Water Use - NYC Local Law 56 of 2010 (in PDF)
  • WE 6: Stop Wasting Drinking Water for Cooling - NYC Local Law 54 of 2010 (in PDF)

Stormwater (SW)

  • SW 2: Reduce Stormwater Runoff from New Developments - NYC Rules, Title 15, Chapter 31 (DEP) (in PDF)
  • SW 4: Send Rainwater to Waterways - NYC Rules, Title 15, Chapter 31 (DEP) (in PDF)
  • SW 5: Encourage Innovative Stormwater Practices - NYC Rules, Title 15, Chapter 31 (DEP) (in PDF)
  • SW 6: Maintain Site-based Stormwater Detention Systems - NYC Rules, Title 15, Chapter 31 (DEP) (in PDF)

A second anniversary report highlighting the impacts of the implemented Green Codes is available here:

Next steps

New York City is continuing to move toward the goal of implementing all 111 recommendations. For 2012, the New York City Mayor’s Office has prioritized 26 to pursue implementation in 2012. Many are of these are being drafted into legislation to be passed by New York City Council. These range from limiting the amount of Portland cement in certain concrete mixes (which will significantly reduce carbon emissions from concrete production), to reducing heat loss and air leakage in exterior walls.

Other benefits

  • Local laws enacted from the Green Codes proposals will result in 10 percent lower energy costs due to more efficient lighting.
  • New plumbing standards will save the equivalent of 30 Central Park Reservoirs every year (30 billion gallons, or 113.6 billion liters).
  • 800 city blocks’ worth of carpeting will be required to pass strict standards for toxic emissions.
  • 2,100 architects and engineers have been trained to follow the most up to date energy code
  • 100,000 tons (90.7 million kg) of asphalt will be diverted from landfills every year.
  • 15 million gallons of rinse water from concrete mixer trucks will be treated every year.